Yoga and small fitness studios question Arizona’s shutdown

Businesses express confusion over COVID-19 closures

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Gyms and fitness centers across Arizona are enduring their second shutdown due to COVID-19.

Governor Doug Ducey’s office said the facilities, regardless of size, must pause operations until at least July 27. Businesses who go against the order can face a fine up to $2,500.

"This is a public health issue, particularly among our younger demographic, and we are looking for cooperation and compliance," the governor's office said in a statement sent to KOLD News 13.

Some local studios said they don't understand why they must shut down when other types of businesses remain open.

“I think that if we’re really going to protect the people we need to all close down together,” said Barefoot Studio Owner Brianna Arndt.

Arndt made many changes to her studio to keep guests and employees safe when she reopened after the first shutdown. She placed markers on the floors for social distancing and even installed Plexiglas to separate the instructor from the clients.

"What makes this seem like a scarier scenario than coming together as a group and dining together at a small table opposed to separated six feet apart and no one takes their mask off until they're settled down at their mats," she said.

A Hotworx studio franchisee, Kristi Barnett, said she opened her location in Marana two weeks ago. She said up to three clients can work out in an infra-red sauna but she limited it to one person per sauna to keep social distance. She's curious as to why facilities like hers must shutdown. 

"Our businesses that are making huge changes to the way that we operate in order to protect our members," Barnett said. "We're in the health industry and we care about the health of our members."

Barnett said she was doing all she could to make sure clients stayed safe while working out at her studio. 

"There's absolutely no evidence to suggest that by working out in our facilities that people are going to get sick any more sense than going to Costco or Target," she said.

The studio owners said exercise is something that's especially important right now to help reduce stress and keep people healthy.

"This is something that brings a lot of peace to people," Arndt said. "It helps calm, it brings a lot of ease to anxiety and stress which also helps the immune system."

A petition is asking for the governor to exempt small fitness and yoga studios from the executive order and allow them to stay open. The petition says, “Small studios can easily limit class sizes to 10 or less. Since classes are small, owners and trainers can easily manage the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 and social distancing.”

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